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The Morrison government has been advised by key bureaucrats and retired "wise elders" against moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem or making other significant changes to Australia’s stance on the status of the city central to the Middle East peace process.


In a development that puts the government in the awkward position of potentially having to ignore its own key advisers, the clear majority view the government has received from its most senior and seasoned foreign policy thinkers is to keep things as they are, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age understand.

The Morrison cabinet is wrestling with whether to make the historic shift in its foreign policy, having discussed the matter this week and with the clock ticking on making a promised announcement before Christmas.

It follows Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s declaration in the heat of the Wentworth by election campaign that the government would consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving Australia’s embassy there.

That would follow in the footsteps of United States President Donald Trump and make Australia only the second major country to shift its position on the contentious issue that goes to the heart of the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict.

While the advice the government has received has not been unanimous, it appears the clear weight of opinion has stated that the status quo on Jerusalem should be maintained.

The government departments and agencies consulted are understood to be aligned in support of Australia’s current position in having its embassy in Tel Aviv. Those include the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Defence Department, ASIO and the Office of National Assessments.

That was also the majority view of a small and handpicked group of former top officials or "wise elders" whom the government has consulted. These included former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet head Michael Thawley, former Defence Department head Dennis Richardson, former Chief of the Defence Force Sir Angus Houston and former Department of Foreign Affairs head Michael L’Estrange.

Compromise positions such as declaring Australia recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while delaying the move of the embassy, as well as opening a smaller consulate in Jerusalem in the meantime, were also not supported by advice.

 

It would be unusual, for instance, to have a consulate less than an hour's drive away from the embassy, as would be the case between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Those compromise stances are understood to have been discussed by cabinet and supported by some ministers.

A Senate estimates hearing in October was told the government did not consult any public servants or diplomats before announcing its review.

A spokeswoman for Mr Morrison declined to comment on the latest advice. While cabinet discussed the issue on Tuesday, it is understood no announcement will be made at least until Saturday.

As Muslim-majority nations, Indonesia and Malaysia were particularly upset about the Morrison government’s review.

 

Splits in the Morrison cabinet have already spilled into the open. Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo told Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita around the start of November that he believed there was a "less than 5 percent" chance the embassy move would go ahead.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg publicly scoffed at Defence Minister Christopher Pyne’s suggestion that a recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the Palestinians' claim over east Jerusalem.

Australia, along with most of the rest of the world, has long had its Israel embassy in Tel Aviv and avoided recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital because the status of the city remains unresolved in the decades-long land dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Morrison faced criticism about the timing of his original review announcement, given the Sydney seat of Wentworth has a significant Jewish community. Labor said the government’s foreign policy was being driven by holding onto its then one-seat majority in Parliament.

 Sources| the Sydney Morning Herald - The Age - Parliament House
editor of the Sydney Morning Herald

New York:AP

 

 More than 150 women and girls have sought treatment in the past 12 days for rape and other acts of sexual violence near Bentiu, the second largest city in South Sudan, UN officials say.


 

A joint statement from the UN humanitarian chief and the heads of the UN children's agency UNICEF and the UN population agency condemned the "abhorrent attacks."

They said that "the assailants have been described as armed men, many in uniform.

A UN statement said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attacks.

 

"These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recent recommitments by South Sudan's leaders to a cessation of hostilities and a revitalised peace agreement, the security situation for civilians remains dire, especially for women and children," the statement said.

Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UN Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem called on authorities "to publicly denounce the attacks and ensure that those responsible for these crimes face justice."

In the first half of 2018, they said, some 2300 cases of gender-based violence were reported to medical and aid groups in South Sudan, the vast majority perpetrated against women and girls and over 20 per cent against children.

"The actual number of cases is far higher, as gender-based violence continues to be severely under-reported," the UN officials said.

 

"Humanitarian workers are providing critical, life-saving assistance and services to the survivors of the attacks," they said. "We call on the authorities to ensure the protection and safety of both civilians and aid workers, to ensure that further such horrendous violations are prevented and that assistance reaches those in need."

Humanitarian workers have warned of higher rates of sexual assault as growing numbers of desperate people try to reach aid.

Doctors Without Borders has Saturday the "dramatic increase" in sexual violence occurred as the women and girls walked to a food distribution site in Bentiu in Unity state.

They were robbed of clothing and shoes, and even their ration cards for food distribution were seized and destroyed, the group said.

 

Ruth Okello, a midwife with Doctors Without Borders who treated some of the survivors, called what happened "indescribable" and said those targeted include pregnant and elderly women and girls as young as 10.

Before the latest attacks, the medical charity said its Bentiu clinic treated 104 survivors of sexual assault in the first 10 months of this year.

There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011. But it plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer.

Sexual violence has been widespread in the country's civil war.

 

A peace deal signed in August 2015 didn't stop the fighting, and neither did cessation of hostilities agreement in December 2017 and a declaration on June 27. A September 12 power-sharing agreement signed in neighbouring Sudan has so far been fraught with delays, missed deadlines and continued fighting in parts of the country.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and forced over 4 million to flee their homes - more than 1.8 million of them leaving the country in what has become one of the world's fastest-growing refugee crises.

A UN panel of experts circulated a report last week saying that the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and UN human rights experts recently "corroborated accounts by victims and witnesses of women and girls as young as 12 years having been abducted by opposition forces and paraded for commanders to choose as 'wives'."

Three of Machar's commanders in charge of forces committing the offences have been identified, the panel said. They were not named.

 

AP

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 23:55

Iran confirms recent ballistic missile test

Geneva: Reuters

    A senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday that Iran had recently carried out a ballistic missile test but he did not specify what kind of missile had been tested, according to Fars News.


The comment appeared to confirm a report by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who said early this month that Iran had test-fired "a medium range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying multiple warheads." The missile could hit all of the Middle East and parts of Europe, Pompeo said.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. He said the deal was flawed because it did not include curbs on Iran's development of ballistic missiles or its support for proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

"We will continue our missile tests and this recent action was an important test," Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' airspace division, said, as quoted by Fars News. He added: "The reaction of the Americans shows that this test was very important for them and that's why they were shouting."

Iran carries out up to 50 missile tests a year, Hajizadeh said.

The Iranian government has ruled out negotiations with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly its missile program run by the Guards.

It says its missile programme is purely defensive and denies its missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads.

Last month, Hajizadeh said that US bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar, and US aircraft carriers in the Gulf were within range of Iranian missiles.

In October, the Revolutionary Guards fired missiles at Islamic State militants in Syria after the Islamist group took responsibility for an attack at a military parade in Iran that killed 25 people, nearly half of them members of the Guards.

 

Reuters

Wednesday, 12 December 2018 23:20

Neo-fascist group's headquarters seized

(ANSA) - Rome

The office of Neo-fascist group Casapound in the southern city of Bari has been seized as part of an investigation into an attack allegedly carried out by its militants last September against demonstrators who were attending a march against fascism and racism.
    Three people were injured in the incident on September 21.
    The Bari militants face charges including "reorganization of the dissolved fascist party" and "fascist demonstration".
    Overall, 35 people are under investigation, including seven anti-fascist demonstrators.

It is worth that Neo-fascist groups have been responsible for 142 attacks in Italy since 2014.More than 70 years after Benito Mussolini’s death, thousands of Italians are joining self-described fascist groups in a surge of support that antifascist groups blame on the portrayal of the refugee crisis, the rise of fake news and the country’s failure to deal with its past.

he Italian constitution forbids the “promotion of any association that pursues the aims of the Fascist party or anyone who exalts its principles.” Yet the authorities have never intervened against CasaPound and Forza Nuova, whose members show off swastikas and fascist flags during their demonstrations.

The ANPI last year drew up a list of 500 internet sites praising fascism in Italy, asking that they be blocked. Nothing was done.

 

Roma- ANSA

  Italy has raised its anti-terrorism measures to the maximum level in view of the Christmas holidays following Tuesday's attack in Strasbourg, sources said on Wednesday.
    Prefects and police chiefs were instructed to raise security efforts at an extraordinary meeting of the case anti-terrorism strategic analysis committee at the interior ministry, the sources said.


The hypothesis that the suspected Strasbourg killer, Cherif Chekatt, could have links to Italy has been ruled out for the moment at the meeting on the basis of information from the French authorities.
    Four people close to Chekatt have been detained, including his father and two brothers, French officials said on Wednesday.

A deadly terrorist attack,where 3 killed and 12 wounded when a gunman opened the fire near a Christmas market in the French border city of Strasbourg on Tuesday evening before being cornered by police. 

The Strasbourg prefecture said the gunman shot dead three people, revising down a previous death toll of three. 

Police officials said Chekatt was wounded in a gunfight with soldiers after the Tuesday night attack but escaped, and a top official said he might have escaped to neighboring Germany.

One of the wounded in critical case is an Italian guy called Antonio Megalizzi and he is in a coma and cannot undergo surgery, the father of the young reporter's girlfriend said on Wednesday.
    "From what I understand, Antonio is on a coma and it is not possible to operate because of the position of the bullet, which reached the column at the base of the skull, near to the spine," said Danilo Moresco, the father of Megalizzi's girlfriend Luana.
    He said he had this information from the family, who are already at the hospital.


   

Tuesday, 11 December 2018 00:56

Tourism in Egypt : Silica Glass Field

    Egypt has many beautiful natural places, as well as the only country in the world that contains one-third of the world's monuments .Over its soil there will be stylized Pharaonic monuments and Greek, Roman, Coptic and Islamic monuments in addition to the modern civilization represented by Egypt, which was competing with the largest capitals of Europe in its elegance as a capital.
Egypt also has a diversity nature of desert and mountain and so what we focus on today for safari lovers...

   Silica Glass Field

    Located in the southern end of the Great Sand Sea in the Egyptian Western Desert, the Silica glass field is an astonishing geological wonder. Very close to the Libyan border, no other place on earth has been found to house the amazing gem-like pieces of yellow-green colour that were discovered in that location. The exact origin of this tektite material is still unknown and scientists speculate that it is the result of the impact of a meteor which would have taken place centuries ago, causing sand to fuse due to the intense heat. However till this day no crater proving this theory has been found. The glass is worn with wind and has a polished feel; it was used by the pharaohs in making jewelry. When visiting the Silica Glass Field, make sure to resist the temptation of taking some of the shiny pieces of desert with you. This field is accessible through safaris and tours of the Great Sand Sea.

 

Sharm Elsheikh - Mena

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has decided to set up an investment risk guarantee fund in Africa to encourage Egyptian investors to channel their investments to Africa and participate in the development of the continent and take advantage of the enormous opportunities available to it.


Al-Sisi called for speeding up the Cairo-Cape Town route to integrate the continent's countries and expand trade between its countries. He called for stimulating and facilitating the work of African companies in Egypt to stimulate joint investments and benefit from the continuous development of the Egyptian economy.


Speaking at the end of the Africa 2018 Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh on Sunday, 9 December 2018, Sisi said that the Forum's activities were an opportunity to affirm Egypt's interest in supporting the African continent's interests, enhancing its development path and an opportunity to exchange views and ideas on ways to promote comprehensive development. On our continent, with a view to finding the best means to improve our present situation and to build our future as we wish and aspire to.


The Egyptian President stressed that achieving security and stability, development and modernization are the most important means of confronting the political, economic and social challenges in our continent. This is evident in the discussions held during the forum, which focused on discussing strategies to attract investments to the continent, For entrepreneurs on the continent level, and strengthening cross-border economic cooperation.


Al-sisi stressed that Egypt will always be supportive of efforts to strengthen African cooperation in particular and international cooperation in general, as reflected in Egypt's open and fair policies to maximize the benefits of these efforts in achieving sustainable economic development, including enhancing the role of the private sector in development and investment at the level of All African countries.

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 Castle Journal is an international newspaper with daily electronic edition, received the international license by the United Kingdom number 10675, and accredited by the Egyptian Embassy in London, owned by Abeer Almadawy

Castle Journal expresses on the free and human voice specialized in the diplomatic, cultural and scientific media, it is eager to create a close relationship with the readers, who is our priority and considers them a true partner.

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